Paul O'Connell pictured alongside Donncha O'Callaghan in the game against Aironi
Paul O'Connell pictured alongside Donncha O'Callaghan in the game against Aironi
Billy Stickland
Much The Same Again
11 November 2011, 8:26 am
By The Editor
Munster have named almost the same extended squad as they did for Aironi for Friday's RaboDirect PRO12 clash with Leinster in Dublin.
The only exception is Dave O'Callaghan who is ruled out of contention with a slight knee injury that rules him out for a few weeks.

Other than that and the longer term injured, the atmosphere in the camp is positive according to skipper Paul O'Connell, "There's been a great buzz since we got back." he said.

"Obviously there was disappointment with the World Cup. There was a massive opportunity we left behind us out there but I think that all the Munster lads that were involved with Ireland were really enthusiastic to get back and looking forward to playing. So there's a really good buzz there now."

Reflecting on the the Aironi game, his first of the season he was fairly happy overall with the display. "Yeh, I was. I liked the first half an hour when it was dry and I thought we were playing really well. We were holding onto the ball for long periods of time and I thought we created a lot of space."

"Unfortunately the rain came down later on, a few injuries, guys playing out of position but we dug in deep. It would have been nice to have scored a few tries but for lads who didn't play a whole lot together I thought we did well."

"The fellas were really happy with the first half hour, really happy with the scrum. They're (Aironi) a good scrummaging side. They're a heavy, big pack and I thought we scrummed really well against them."

On a personal level, O'Connell is happy where he's at. "I'm enjoying it more than ever. I suppose I didn't really get a pre-season last year. I got a great one this year with Ireland above in Carton House. I enjoyed that, enjoyed getting a good run of games under my belt as well."

And looking forward to Friday's game? "It's going to be a really tough game for us and it'll really let us know where we are. We're going to be tested in every way. I mean obviously our scrum, y'know, Cian (Healy) and Mike Ross had a great World Cup. Our scrum is going to be tested. Our lineout. Fitness, physicality. They play a good pressure game as well."

"There's going to be a massive crowd there. Big heaving atmosphere. So for us it's going to be a great test and it will really let us know where we are and what we have to work on going into the two big weeks involving Northampton Saints & Castres."

Munster will announce their side for the game at lunchtime tomorrow shortly before the squad departs for Dublin.

Munster Squad: M Horan, W du Preez, J Hayes, BJ Botha, S Archer, D Varley, D Fogarty, M O'Driscoll, D Ryan, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, B Holland, D Leamy, N Ronan, P O'Mahony, T O'Donnell, J Coughlan, T O'Leary, C Murray, D Williams, P Stringer, I Keatley, R O'Gara, K Earls, D Barnes, L Mafi, W Chambers, D Howlett, D Hurley, J Murphy, S Deasy,

(Not considered due to injury: David Wallace, Troy Smith, Felix Jones, Jerry Flannery, Peter Borlase, Darragh Hurley, Mike Sherry, Dave O'Callaghan).

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